Advent to Christmas 2016

What is Advent?

The Christians across the world have entered into the season of Advent. Some think that is serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is correct. But there is more to Advent.

In Latin the word adventus, means – “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Which meant the second coming of Christ in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.

We know that in earlier times Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1)).

There is also the meaningful tradition of the Advent wreaths. They are constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which four candles are inserted, representing the four weeks of Advent, three candles are purple and one is rose. And the progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of his second coming to judge the living and the dead.

Advent and our Christian Life

Today, Advent brings in the Joy of Christ’s birth with the celebration and glamour – Santa Claus, and Christmas parties, lighting and music, exchanging gifts, buying new clothes, etc.  While Advent is certainly a time of celebration and anticipation of Christ’s birth, it is more than that.  It is only the tension of the waiting of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated; and it is only in the light of Christmas that the Christian life makes any sent.

Christian life is based on Advent faith, that is, the expectation of future revelation.  But only faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting.  Therefore, the words of Christ – Be ready – becomes the watchword during Advent.  Be ready by prayer and reconciliation.  “The promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again.  This the essence of Advent.” During Advent, the church looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people.

“C Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

Fr. Mathai